08 Feb AN ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE
The Ogs refer to us human beings as The Funny Folk and I would like to join them in this. Let’s face it we are folk and we are very funny. In fact, we are positively peculiar but The ‘Peculiar Folk’ didn’t have the same ring to it! So funny folk we are!
I have used the Ogs I suppose, as a way of giving me a voice. Whilst I wouldn’t qualify as a shy person I am not particularly vocal as it’s only since having children that I have started to feel strongly about anything at all. I was quite a frightened child, teenager etc. but having children has helped me understand what really matters to me and why. When you are trying to facilitate your children’s lives you discover the values you hold dear and you also become more forgiving of lots of things. Being a parent is the lived experience of discovering none of us are perfect. When you are a child your expectations of your parents are so high and despite wishing to be the perfect parent I have resigned myself to being a good enough parent. Don’t get me wrong I still aim high but I accept the reality and wonder how my own parents made it look so easy!
It’s not just The Ogs that have given me a voice (some would say Wine has also given me a voice on occasions!) but Painting has also given me a voice. Painting has allowed me to say so many things. For example, it has allowed me to say to myself and others that “I see things like this right now!” Every painting I have ever painted has been a reflection of where I was at a given moment in time in both a locational sense and an emotional sense. I have paintings scattered in houses across the UK stretching back over a period of over 30 years and I can remember why I painted each and every one of them.
Each of the paintings will tell a different story and some patrons bought two at a time simply to witness the transition of emotions and skills and subject matter over a given time. It still fascinates me when I see some of my older paintings as it may be the colours, the techniques or styles or simply the stage of life that will stand out to me as the viewer. I used to paint what I suppose is commonly referred to as Pointillism (a series of dots and marks) to build up a painting. I had no knowledge of this as technique but it evolved for me simply because it matched the intense feelings I was experiencing as a teenager and young adult and the need to contain myself as a challenging life evolved around. This is really helpful for me to see as over the last 20 years my paintings have become freer, looser and almost impressionistic in their style and perhaps techniques.
A simple interpretation might be that I am now a freer, looser woman (that doesn’t sound great). I could settle with “I am more mature” (no that sounds like I am old and I refuse to believe that) or better still I am content (that sounds a bit smug). I think the only difference in my painting now is that I am more experienced at doing it and as a result my eyes are better at seeing (despite them actually being poorer in visibility than ever before). I told you The Ogs know what they are talking about- I am Funny Folk personified. Nothing has changed about my painting in terms of motivation and inspiration but I am simply better at seeing now despite having the worst eyesight I have ever had!
Eyesight is often the least important tool I have at my disposal when painting (optic neuritis has at times been a nuisance as have migraines and age) but ‘seeing’ things has become everything in a painting. I no longer focus on the detail but more on what I am seeing and feeling. I may see the crumbling rocks on a cliff edge or a sea spray as a wave hits the land but I do not rely on my eyesight to see it simply because more important to me is the impact on me that the scene has evoked. This vision is less about detail and everything about capturing a moment in time. I mentioned in an earlier post that the best advice an art tutor can give a student is:
“Look, look and then look again and again and again….”
It drives students mad but it’s invaluable. If applied it eventually slows down the process of painting for all the right reasons. Often as artists we do focus on the end result and need to move away from treating every painting we start as being a final painting. A painting needs to be broken down a bit before we even decide what we want to include in the final picture. Sketchbooks are a wonderful exploration of a painting. They provide the layers of meaning that I love a painting to hold. This idea of layers is so important to me and may in part be why I now paint as I do predominantly, in acrylics and or mixed media. Using the same analogy that SHREK used “My paintings are like Ogres and onions……. no they hopefully don’t make you cry! But they are layered!” Layers upon layers building up a scene until it is ready to stand alone and adorn a wall.
The most exciting vision I love to capture is the vision of the Surfer. I can look at a surf photographer’s work and whilst my eyesight is delighted with their vision it is the feeling that it evokes in me that makes me paint big waves and the motion of the ocean. I can feel my heart beating faster as my emotions are stimulated as I not only take in the scene but equally as I imagine what it feels like to be immersed in that experience. This is why I enter the water as much as can throughout the year (health permitting) because I love to activate all my senses when painting the sea. However, what can happen is that due to being so cold I actually deactivate most of my feelings as I turn blue and go numb!
- When you make the decision to embark on a painting or creative project consider not what you want it to look like at the end but what you want it to feel like at the end.
- How do you want to feel at the end and how would you like the viewer to feel when they see it?
- Ask yourself if eyesight is going to be the most important requirement, or will it be your vision or will it be how you actually see and saw the subject that makes this a work of art?